Lawyers for Lesotho’s prime minister have told a court that he cannot be charged over the murder of his estranged wife because his position makes him immune from prosecution.
PM Thomas Thabane’s then-wife, Lipolelo Thabane, was shot dead in 2017.
The case has now been referred to the High Court. His current wife has already been charged with the murder.
Mr. Thabane would be the first African leader to be charged with domestic murder while in office.
The case has shocked many in the small landlocked kingdom which are entirely surrounded by South Africa.
In Monday’s hearing, defense lawyer Qhalehang Letsika said: “My client cannot be prosecuted while in office but he is not above the law.”
The presiding magistrate referred the case to the High Court, which will be sitting as the Constitutional Court when it hears the case with a panel of at least three judges.
Mr. Thabane, 80, missed a court appearance last week because he went to South Africa for medical treatment.
He rejected reports that he had fled the country. In January, his wife Maesaiah Thabane also went to South Africa after police issued a warrant of arrest against her.
Mr. Thabane has said he would step down in July, resisting pressure from his own party to leave office immediately.